| Written by Geir Nerbø
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Mining is a risky business: Being underground doesn't feel natural as it is a harsh environment for humans. As a result, safety is a top priority for mining operations because the areas feature extremes in temperatures, air quality, and impacts.
Therefore, we put together another set of essential safety tips how to reduce the risk of accidents in mines.
As noxious vapours naturally happen in mines, workers can inhale these and suffer from poisoning. In addition, high concentrations of particular gases can collect, and in some instances, they can combust.
Effective ventilation systems can divert the gases and enhance airflow. More air dilutes the gases to an acceptable and breathable proportion for suitable air quality.
Knowing the signs of gas poisoning can allow you to catch leakage before it harms anyone. For instance, overexposure to carbon monoxide can cause headaches and breathlessness. In addition, gas detection devices bring more dependable monitoring.
Interested how to improve underground mining safety? Read here...
Mining is demanding work, and strenuous activity can result in uncomfortable stresses. Especially, performing in confined spaces can require unusual positioning, and awkward stances and motions can cause injuries.
Lifting is a significant activity of miners, but doing so in an extended position can make lifting even more difficult. In addition, heaving large amounts of weight and lifting objects can put pressure on the back and neck, hampering workflow. It's also wise to ask for assistance from fellow miners to pick up bulky loads.
The spectrum of temperatures that miners spend time in can inflict stress on the body. For example, gold, diamond and coal mines can drop to negative temperatures, while deep mines closer to the earth's core can climb to hot conditions.
Long work hours in an intense setting can fatigue miners, leading to heat exhaustion and dizziness. Freezing areas can also impact workers with cold-related illnesses like lack of coordination and irregular breathing. These kinds of impairment in workforce members could affect the well being of others if they didn't carry out their duties.
Hydration, sufficient coverings and periodic pauses from these conditions can lessen the risk of cold or heat stress.
Controlled detonations in quarrying resonate through the earth and originate loud sounds, and potent mining machinery also adds aspects of vibration and noise. However, suppression supports can take the noise down to a reasonable level. In addition, blast mats can absorb the energy from the discharge and help contain strong gas emissions (Related: blast mitigation techniques).
Strategic drilling can reduce tremors, especially in procedures where buffer holes are inserted in advance.
Miners repeatedly stumble or fall from high places, and people can travel down meters onto hard surfaces due to long shafts.
Workers can also slip on liquid, mud or loose rock while walking, but high-traction footwear can give you a better stance on uneven ground. Sizable work boots might affect your gait, but they can keep you upright.
Toppling off ladders is another possibility, and ladder securing equipment could solve it. For example, underground mining uses fixed ladders, and safety belts and lines can draw workers back if they slip on far-reaching shafts.
Shafts that are out of commission yet not shut can eventually cause problems. Mines need maintenance and reinforcement to uphold their structure, and without supervision, the unused shafts deteriorate.
They can act unpredictably and tumble, affecting neighbouring shafts. Gas collection can also increase the risk of explosions.
Securing deserted shafts can keep the framework, and a reliable sealing method can jam gas from entering the used passages of the mine.
Environmental changes and human-made detonations can move rocks and dislodge large pieces from rock walls. Falling rock can hit workers and induce serious injuries, so setting up protecting systems is advantageous. For example, fastening anchors and barriers in vulnerable areas can hold back fragments to protect miners.
The materials in mines raise the chance of fire, and if you're mining coal or working in a gas-rich region, this heightens your risk for disastrous scenarios.
Because underground shafts and tunnels are tightly enclosed, smoke and flames can fast become overwhelming. The compact tracks also can provoke the spread of fires.
Fire suppression devices can fight the flames, and sensors can caution workers about danger. Remaining vigilant to fire stimulants and treacherous conditions can ready workers to respond to the initial moments of the fire. Wearing fire-resistant protective gear can reduce the degree of burns, too.
Electrical cords and electronics in damp mines can raise the risk of electrocution or electric shock, but preserving electrical safety can protect workers from the hazard. Grounding the system, incorporating resilient cords and protecting the connections can manage the currents.
Bundling the cords to prevent tangling and moving them out of walkways to avoid tripping is good.
Cave-ins have been dominant in mining operations for years and can be fatal. Weighing the probability of collapses in different scenarios can grow awareness in mining crews.
While cave-ins can happen without notice, workers can methodically complete their tasks without cutting corners. In addition, compliance with mining regulations and attentiveness can keep workers from getting trapped.
Miner tracking technology for mining can also amplify safety and strengthen subsurface structures. Devices that can pinpoint liabilities early can help crews deal with the risks immediately.
Relaying information about the situations and progress of mining activities is vital. Lines of communication should be handy so workers can warn others about suspicious areas or mishaps as soon as possible.
Signs designating hazardous areas can visually convey safe zones, and clear labels can tell workers how or when to use their equipment and tools.
Further reading: Mine Safety - Why digital management?
After understanding the routine, workers can feel comfortable in their positions, but they can also forget essential procedures. Their caution can wane as they settle into the routine. Reminders about the rules from supervisors and coworkers can create a sense of responsibility. Refresher training courses can also help you go through the process with confidence.